A research question is useful for guiding the rest of your research process, but it can change as you learn more about your topic. Start with a question you are curious about or a topic that your professor assigns to you. Think about what really interests you about that issue. Ask the following questions to help articulate your research question:
Now that you have thought about these questions, you should try to write out your research question and include as many of these details as possible.
Example: What methods did linguists use to gather information about the Ladino language spoken in Mexico by Sephardic Jews and how has that contributed to knowledge of the spread of the language?
In this example, there are lots of answers to the questions above. The 'who' are both the linguists and the Sephardic Jews. The 'what' includes the methods, the Ladino language, and the spread of the language. The 'where' is Mexico. The 'when,' 'why,' and 'how' are not explicitly stated in this question, but that's OK. You can also think about 'how' the linguists gathered information, and that will be useful to you when you evaluate the information you find (more on that in the Evaluate page).
The answers to the questions above will help us identify keywords to use for searching in the next steps. Note the keywords in bold. Start brainstorming some synonyms, closely related words and ideas, as well as antonyms for your keywords. For example, some Sephardic Jews are also called crypto-Jews. These two terms may not be perfect synonyms, but their meanings overlap in certain contexts and can both be useful as keywords in your searches. Keep in mind, you can brainstorm synonyms in multiple languages.
Keyword 1 = Synonym 1 OR Synonym 2 OR Synonym 3
Language = Idioma OR Lengua OR Tongue
Jargon = Jerga OR Colloquialism OR Vernacular OR Lenguaje